Cash-strapped Britons are giving up their family pets in numbers not seen since the 2008 financial crash as the cost-of-living soars.
Battersea animal charity have 206 dogs and 164 cats currently being looked after at its rehoming centres.
Dogs Trust currently has 692 dogs needing homes in 21 centres across the country.
Other centres have reported seeing record inquiries for dog and cat returns during the tightest squeeze on living standards since at least the 1960s.
Many owners are being forced to decide the additional cost of food plus hundreds of pounds in vet bills is no longer manageable.
Exotic pets such as snakes and lizards are also proving too expensive due to their need for specialist heating and lighting.
Steven Craddock, who manages the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in southwest London said: ‘We are concerned that’s going to be an increasing reason for people bringing their dogs in to Battersea.’
He told the story of Harriet, a black English cocker spaniel abandoned and found running along a busy road in London after witnesses saw her pushed out of a car.
The RSPCA said three snakes, including an 8-foot (2.4-metre) boa constrictor, were also recently dumped in pillow cases outside a reptile shop.
The trend, which follows a surge in demand for pets during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in a country known for its love of animals, comes as households brace for energy bills to more than triple in January on last year.
The Bank of England has warned Britain faces a long recession.
‘This cost-of-living crisis has crept up on us a lot more quickly than people ever expected,’ said Dogs Trust operations director Adam Clowes.
Such is the pressure that the charity is considering whether it should expand an emergency support fund, normally reserved for people on welfare benefits who need short-term financial support to keep their pets, to more middle income earners.
Animal charities say they are also worried the squeeze on living standards will have an impact on donations, though they are not seeing this yet.
At Battersea, some pets are being rehomed. Magpie is a British short hair cat who arrived pregnant after her owner of two years realised that they could not afford the kittens.
All of her four kittens have now been found new homes.
But that is unlikely to be the case for most animals, with another charity, Woodgreen, saying applications to adopt animals have dropped to the 100s a month from around 10,000 during lockdowns.